Doing it for the kids

I am the third child in a family of four kids. Growing up I had a standard line that I used to tell people just where I fit in: there’s my oldest sister, then the baby sister, then there’s the only boy, and then there’s me. When my Grandmother was suffering from alzheimer’s and forgot so much, she still remembered everyone’s name except for me, saying “and you”. I suppose I made up for the “and you” position growing up by being as loud and noticeable as I could, just so everyone could see that while I was just another sister, I was worth remembering.

My poor suffering family.

There’s 10 years between us. So when Luce was born, Sarah was 10, I was 5 and my brother was 8. In the photo above, my brother’s 21st, my older sister was 23, I was 18 and Luce 13. While there was definitely a time when it was just Luce and I at home towards the end when the big two had moved out, we remained a close family and still do to this day. I love my siblings fiercely. We are all different, but have a common ground of giving each other as much shit as possible at any given opportunity.

This week I have seen some old family friends of ours travel away with their Mum and Dad on a once in a lifetime trip. Their Mum is sick and decided that they would all head away for a few days to be together and make some memories. Despite all of them being married, and with families and kids of their own, they went just the 4 kids and the Mum and Dad. The original 6.

When I was having lunch with an old mate earlier this week, she told me about a big trip that she did with her own Dad a few years ago, a pilgrimage of sorts over to Singapore to visit his own Father’s grave who had died at war while he was in utero. He’d never known his own father, him dying before he was born, so they made the trip there, with their Dad and the 4 kids. Her own Mum had died a number of years ago so it was just the original 5 of them.

We were talking over lunch about this, Mum saying how much she would love to do something with just us one time. With partners and kids, it’s almost impossible to do anything as the original family group. In fact, I dead set cannot remember the last time we were just the siblings together? Away or at a lunch or dinner? I cannot remember! And it’s not that I want to with as I adore all my in laws and nieces and nephews and this is the new norm now, but it was interesting to think about.

We’re not likely to so anything much as the original 6 these days with Mum and Dad both remarried, but it got me thinking about the original crew, and the last time we did anything together just us. 1994 when Mum and Dad separated? Over 20 years? I honestly cannot remember. And then it made me think about our original Macdonald crew we roll now each and every day…will there really be a time when it’s never just the 5 of us? How odd.

Got me wondering about your original crew too.
When was the last time you did something with just your siblings and or a parent?
A holiday? A dinner or lunch?
What’s your position in your family? 3 of 4 like me?


  1. My family and I are about to head up to Byron bay for a week, just the original 4 plus a newborn. Feels odd to leave the other crew at home!! I feel like I’m 16 again

  2. I’m the middle of the middle 😉 No.4 of 8, 2 older sisters, 1 older brother, 3 youngers sisters, 1 younger brother – when my kids moan about older/younger whatever I can always say with honesty I know how they feel! and middle of middle because we are 2 older sisters, then a group of three which I’m the middle of, then younger twins, and finally a six year gap to younger brother (confusing, right?). There are 20 years from oldest to youngest, so I can’t actually think of a time when it would have been “just” us 10, my oldest sister married about 4 weeks after my youngest brother was born and my first niece was born 3 years later. Nowadays, we do all live quite close except the youngest who is in Perth (we’re in Wellington, NZ), so will get together occasionally for an afternoon tea or whatever – and Boxing Day every year we make an effort to all be there – but that is everyone, not just the original 10. Funny to think really, that I don’t think its ever been just us!

  3. We do it regularly. My parents separated in 1998 but are still good friends. In fact now I think of it they’re still legally married (but most definitely separated!). When I go back home for a visit we always catch up for at least one dinner just the original five. I think all the reminiscing and in-jokes gets pretty tiresome for the partners.

    And my sisters and I are going to do a trip somewhere tropical next year, just the three of us.

    You have to do it! We just laugh and laugh the whole time.

  4. We’re a little spread out, and I’m interstate from my folks and brother. I have recently completed a road trip, where I spent a week with my parents and then a few days with my brother. It was awesome! Really awesome! There were lunches, dinners, coffees, lots of laughs and plenty of wines with my mum & dad. And some really great talks, dinners, piss-taking, memories discussed and a particularly scary drive through Sydney (I now live in a regional area & forgot how bad Sydney traffic is!).
    I think the last time it was just us 4, it was the night before my wedding. Just us hanging out, talking crap finishing with my brother crash tackling me on to the couch that ended up in a wrestling match on the floor, mum shouting “someone will get hurt!” and dad laughing like a loon after a few too many reds! Ah good times!
    Sometimes at Christmas we get maybe a little bit of time as just us four. But for the most part, it’s 6 of us at Christmas with my husband & MIL.
    A trip with just the four of us for a few days would be great. I think I may even suggest it.

  5. I’m the second youngest of six. 17 years from eldest to youngest. I married at 21 and that was the first time in ten years that us six kids and my parents had all been together. We are a very close family but lived in different states from far North Queensland to Adelaide. We always tried to get home to mum and dad at Christmas. My mum died at Christmas when I was 30- before I had my second child. There were 24 of us staying in the house. We were all there together with her. My father died when I was 40 and we all came together. When I turned 50, five years ago all my siblings came together. Each year our family celebrates an early Christmas in early December in Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast at one of our homes and whoever can possibly come of us kids, nephews and nieces and Grand nephews and nieces get together. It’s a wonderful time that all of us cherish. Two Christmases ago all six of us were together. It wouldn’t be the same without seeing all the ‘kids’ as well! We love any chance that any of us get together. We had to create new traditions when we lost our mum. It would never have occurred to me to see my brothers and sisters without seeing my nephews and nieces. I think I’d feel bereft not overjoyed!

  6. Hey Beth, I think about this often. I’m the oldest of 3 girls. A few years ago both of our parents died (within 6 months) and whilst it was SHIT it was also so special for my sisters and I to spend so much time together as our original nuclear family. To remember that I was someone’s daughter and sister before I was a wife and mother. Don’t waste any more time thinking about taking that time away with your first family – do it! xxxx

  7. My Dad died in 2003. In 2005 my only brother and I had a holiday with Mum in Western Australia. Mum had always wanted to see the wildflowers in Spring, so I organised a little trip. At that time my brother and his family lived in Mackay. It was my sister-in-law who suggested that Rob come as well, and I’m so glad she did. Mum, Rob and I had quality time together… just driving around, looking for wildflowers and staying in pretty towns in W.A. It was a gentle way to transition to being without Dad.

  8. The closest my family got to this was last year when I took the Little Mister to visit my brother in Melbourne. My mum and dad were there – my husband couldn’t make it. It felt like the old days for just a bit – even if we did miss my hubby. It’s rare now with my brother living interstate for us to all be together – the original 4 (even with much loved add ons)!

  9. Susan, Mum to Molly says

    Its just my sister and I, and we are fortunate to be both very close and live in the same city – so we frequently manage ‘sis-dates’. <3

    Our parents divorced 20+ years ago, so the four of us getting together is not really a 'thing' – but my mum is one of five and those sibs (4 'girls' and a 'boy', now all in their 60's) make a point of having a lunch (or similar together), just them, whenever the tribe gather from all over Aus, say for a family wedding.

  10. Great question…. I don’t think we’ve been the original 7 for decades.

    For 5 years we were 4 (notice how I start with my arrival!), then became 5, then another chunk of years went by, then we were 6, another short break, then 7.

    We have 15 years from eldest to youngest. I’m the eldest girl and second in line to the throne.
    Boy, me, boy, girl, girl. My elder brother and I are both adopted, so we’re imports and home-growns. The much coveted ‘golden child’ title has only been mine once, very briefly, but I’m the best looking, smartest, funniest, most quick witted one by a country mile, so I’m golden anyway!

    Something in our DNA is different to lots of families, the whole family get-together thing isn’t our jam. We have never had Easter lunch, we’ve done Christmases with someone missing as they visit in-laws and such, and birthdays are all about the kids – I have 9 nieces and nephews – and I have become the forgetful aunt who sometimes doesn’t show up!

    If you like your original peeps, get together with them I say. Great idea for those who have that good family glue.

  11. A timely discussion, Beth! I encouraged my partnerto go to lunch with his core 4 (Mum & 2 sisters) on Saturday as his elder sister was visiting from interstate. He was reluctant to go as I had an ear infection (& let’s face it, I needed to be left on my own with a 5 month old and a non-napping 2.5 year old like I needed a hole in my head) but I took one for the team & was delighted that he had a good time.

    I’m an only child and my parents live interstate. When they visit I try to have an outing with just the core 3 as well as one on one time with each. Find we chat about different things.

  12. I’m the eldest of 3 with two younger brothers. We don’t often think about doing something just “us”. You are right, my new “us” is my husband, 4 kids and 1. My kids are actually the same age gaps as you and your siblings. I hope my kids grow up with an amazing friendship bound that makes them gravitate towards each other but also hope they get the chance to have their own “us” where is create their own memories and rituals. Xx

  13. I definitely grew up with a middle child complex. Older, and only boy, big brother; younger “baby” sister. So I really felt like I was in a nothing place in the family hierarchy. It got much worse when my parents split up and we lived just with mum and didn’t really see dad for years because my mum is very similar to my little sister and my brother was her boy and I just felt unloved. It wasn’t true of course but I couldn’t understand until much later that I wasn’t unloved, but I am very different in personality to my siblings and mum (but not dad). It certainly gave me some things to figure out in my 20s but fell into place as I got to know some of my cousins from dads side of the family (we grew up in different states) and I realised I’d found my tribe!! Now I have my own girls (2 – so no middle, I couldn’t do it!) I understand how each of your children bring out a different love in you. When I was young all I could see was the love that came my way from my mum was different, which from a kids perspective must be WORSE! It was all a blessing in disguise though because it made me strong, outgoing and independent and I learnt to make decisions and back myself from a young age. Those qualities set me up for a great life. And although we will never be just the 5, I often spend time with my mum and sister as the 3 girls and of course I have my “new” family of 4 which I hope will stay just that way for as long as possible.

  14. My daughter has 3 days of school left EVER!! I am beside myself and keep getting all teary. Whilst my youngest is leaving primary school!! What is happening? We just had a week in Vietnam – was it the last time we’ll go as just the 5 of us? We always have the boyfriend at home and to dinners etc these days – which is lovely (he’s fantastic and adores her, it is the most beautiful kind of 1st love – for all of us, my little too love him) but I’m thinking Vietnam could have been our last together holiday with us as the Mum and Dad and 3 kids. She’ll be all grown up and doing her own travels, which of course is fabulous but also an end of an era! ;-(

  15. I am the eldest of 4 – 3 girls & 1 boy with my younger sister is definitely the middle child (funny I have 4 kids now too, 3 boys and 1 girl and the middle son is very much the middle child lol). We now are a split family – physically (Port Mac, Nelsons Bay, Wollongong and Temora), but spiritually with dad removing himself from our lives by his choice a few years ago (but is still involved in mum’s life). Earlier this year mum found herself providing support to dad as he was in Sydney for a heart valve replacement. Although we Christmas together and try to spend time together at least 1 other time during the year, the 4 siblings met in Darlinghurst for lunch and we had a ball – just us, no spouses or kids! It gave us a chance to talk freely about how we are feeling and we made the pact to support each other’s decisions with regards to the future with our parents.
    Families are complicated and no two are the same. We (siblings) are in constant contact and in our support of mum but that time just the 4 of us together will stay with me for a long time. xxxxx

Speak Your Mind